Here on the east coast it’s no secret that the parcels are smaller, the hunter density per huntable acre is much higher, and farm equipment doesn’t seem to bother the deer all that much; especially while harvesting the crops. Every bowhunter is looking for the edge to capitalize on that dream buck. Where I’m from and primarily hunt the first 2-4 days the corn is harvested is prime time to hunt that field as it is anywhere!
The Build Up
In the early summer before the corn is too high I try to keep tabs on the deer that are feeding into it. Once it’s too high to see I look for the heavy trails or heavy crop damage, that’s where I hang my trail cameras. In today's world, I prefer to use cellular trail cameras so there is less disturbance. As the summer winds down and September ends, I’ll revisit the field edges in search of rubs or scrapes to adjust trail camera locations. By this time, bucks are dispersing from their summer bachelor groups, beginning to travel while marking their territory, and starting to scent check community scrapes and does.
By revisiting field edges I’m narrowing down travel patterns and activity, as once the corn is harvested the deer scour the entire field for remanence of corn and where they enter and exit a field can and will most likely change. Not only will it change because the main food source is gone, but now so is a vast majority of their cover. Also, by that time of year a lot of their preferred browse on field edges could be dying or changing for the year; such as wild berries, briars, etc.
Harvest time typically brings cooler temps and a change in food source. Once that combine pulls into the field and makes a few rounds; it’s go time! Here in eastern Pennsylvania the combine doesn’t necessarily serve as a threat to the deer but rather a dinner bell! As I’m sure it does everywhere else too, as I’ve seen it first hand in Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. With today's advance in technology and equipment, combines leave very little to no corn behind for wildlife which makes the deer search even harder in the field. Based off experience the first 2-4 days after a field is harvested is typically magic! Most of the native deer or local deer to that property will end up there at some point during that period. Often times you may find deer in the field that you’ve never seen before!
Once the grain is all harvested and the field is wide open; the game changes. This is when that summer and early fall scouting pays off. Unless my homework (trail cameras & scouting) says different, I will hang my sets based off trails entering the field or a scrape line. Mind you, I will hang more than one set for those trails/scrapes for only one reason.. The wind. It is very common for deer to enter the field in one spot and exit in another. Especially mature bucks. Mature bucks typically enter the field closer to dark which is why when I’m after a buck; I focus on hunting the trails they enter the field on as well as the scrape line they’re working. If you can’t seem to find any scrapes, make one! I’ve had great success turning a mock scrape into a major pit stop for those searching bucks!
Now mind you this is also a perfect time get a true feel of just how many deer are in your area as well as fill a few doe tags. So regardless, if you’re hunting for a buck or doe; hunting a fresh cut corn field is a phenomenal opportunity and highly recommended for mid season success!
Author: Russ Horn, Exodus Black Hat Team Member